Summer: The Donna Summer Musical BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joan Marcus

  • HR


  • EW

  • AMNY

Opening Night:
April 23, 2018
December 30, 2018

Theater: Lunt-Fontanne Theatre / 205 West 46th Street, New York, NY, 10036


She was a girl from Boston with a voice from heaven, who shot through the stars from gospel choir to dance floor diva. But what the world didn’t know was how Donna Summer risked it all to break through barriers, becoming the icon of an era, and the supreme queen for every diva who followed. With a score featuring more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits including “Love to Love You, Baby;” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff,” this electric experience is a moving tribute to the voice of a generation.

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    Review: Hot Stuff Turns Cold in ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical’

    Jesse Green

    April 23, 2018:

    The biographical jukebox musical — of which “Jersey Boys” provides a shining example, thanks to all the Brylcreem — is the cockroach of Broadway. It has a small head, a primitive nervous system and will probably outlast the apocalypse.

    Even by that standard, “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” which opened on Monday at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, is a blight. Despite the exciting vocalism of a cast led by the formidable LaChanze, it reduces the late Queen of Disco and pioneer of electronica to a few factoids and song samples that make her seem profoundly inconsequential. You could learn more (and more authentically) by reading a thoughtful obituary while listening to her hits — “Hot Stuff,” “Last Dance,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” among many others — online.

    But then you would not be contributing to the music publishing enterprise that keeps jukebox musicals coming no matter how hard they get stomped on by critics.

  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    'Summer: The Donna Summer Musical': Theater Review

    David Rooney

    April 23, 2018: There's a blink-and-you-miss-it visual joke in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, dropped in while the title character is belting "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)," the disco anthem in which two take-charge women with killer pipes and a funky bass line vow to kick out the deadbeat men dragging them down. As often happens in this show with a protagonist in triplicate, the song is performed as a double-Donna duet. But Summer's original partner on the 1979 hit does make a cameo appearance. When a hard-to-shake lover who has followed her from Munich to the Hollywood Hills shows up and starts smacking her around, Donna lays him out by socking him in the jaw with a Barbra Streisand coffee-table book. Finally, the perfect use for those hefty vanity tomes! Sadly, that's one of the few decent jokes in this tacky little show, a feebly dramatized Wikipedia page with lackluster covers, which was rushed to Broadway following a fall tryout at La Jolla Playhouse that received mostly tepid reviews. And yet it shows no sign of improvements having been attempted. Heaven knows it's not the way it should be. Why is there a wink-wink moment in a domestic violence scene? Well, at least it's consistent with a musical that sprinkles groan-inducing laugh lines like a Borscht Belt comedian, regardless of the dramatic context. How to follow childhood sexual abuse, born again Christian enlightenment, a terminal cancer diagnosis and a half-assed acknowledgment of the devastating losses of AIDS? Duh, with a tasteless insinuation that Donna spent much time on her knees for purposes other than praying, of course.

  • DEADLINE REVIEW OF Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical’ Review: Broadway’s Last Days Of Disco

    Greg Evans

    April 23, 2018: Anyone who worked as hard for her money – and for a professional respect that came too late – as Donna Summer did deserves so much more than this. A jukebox musical that could undo all the genre rehab delivered by superior shows built around Carole King and, if you want to stretch the definition a bit to include Lazarus, David Bowie, Broadway’s Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, opening tonight, is as unimaginative as its title.

     With the saving graces of really fine vocal performances from LaChanze, Ariana DeBose and young Storm Lever – each plays the disco great at different points in her life – Summer dutifully pastes the life events of LaDonna Adrian Gaines to the hits she’d perform under the name thought up by pioneering producer Giorgio Moroder. “Summer,” the show’s writers have Moroder saying. “You know, like the season. Hot.”

  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY REVIEW OF Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    Summer: The Donna Summer Musical will make you 'Stamp Your Feet': EW review

    Breanne L. Heldman

    April 23, 2018:

    If you’re lookin’ for some hot stuff on Broadway, you’ve come to the right place. Summer: The Donna Summer Musical delivers the seasonal sunshine. It just doesn’t also bring a whole lotta depth.
    The biographical show kicks off with “The Queen Is Back” and “I Feel Love” and LaChanze as “Diva Donna,” the eldest of three “Donnas” in the production, addressing the audience and suggesting we’d be seeing “the concert of a lifetime.” Soon, we’re introduced to “Disco Donna” (Ariana DeBose) writhing through recording “Love to Love You Baby” in a studio in Germany and young LaDonna Adrian Gaines — aka “Duckling Donna” (Storm Lever) — performing for family and neighbors in her living room and at church. From there, the 100-minute show begins flying through key moments in Summer’s life, spotlighting highlights but not dancing around the low points like her drug use, financial battles with her record label, and a controversy around comments she reportedly made in the early ’90s regarding the AIDS epidemic. During the performance I attended, the audience reached a breaking point about midway through and could no longer just tap and bop to the familiar tracks, and they began to sing along with “Heaven Knows” and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).” Not surprisingly, that participation reaches a fever pitch during the final two numbers and stood up to dance as disco ball-shaped confetti rains down (and if you can’t guess what that last song is, you haven’t been paying attention).

  • AM NEW YORK REVIEW OF Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

    ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical’ review: Crowd-pleasing hits can’t save this Broadway dud

    Matt Windman

    April 23, 2018: Lookin’ for some hot stuff baby this evenin’? Look somewhere other than the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, now home to “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” (inventive title, no?), the latest addition to Broadway’s never-ending assembly line of mindless jukebox musicals constructed around a singer-songwriter’s biggest pop hits. All of the late disco queen Donna Summer’s crowd-pleasing hits are featured, “Love to Love You Baby” to “Last Dance.” Three performers portray Summer at different stages of her life: Storm Lever (Duckling Donna), Ariana DeBose (Disco Donna) and LaChanze (Diva Donna). By strange coincidence, the upcoming Cher jukebox musical (“The Cher Show,” another inventive title) will also have three women playing a single superstar. LaChanze lends a dynamic leading presence, including a big voice and a weathered, but unfazed and jocular attitude, which contrasts nicely with the vulnerability expressed by Lever and DeBose.



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